Game report written by Paul
And so it came to pass - round four of the Samurai v Teutonic Order campaign. With the Samurai leading 2:1, Dane and my self decided to up the army points from 200 to 300 keeping the table size the same as before (17 hexes by 14 or just under 6ft by 4ft). We would have enough time for two games, each taking a little over 2 hours.
Dane deployed his two artillery units on a hill from which he could control the centre of the table with his mounted Samurai on his right wing. His foot Samurai which had out fought my infantry in all three of the proceeding games were mainly concentrated on the left wing, with ashigaru and ikko ikki joining these into a very solid line stretching right across the table.
In response I concentrated all my infantry in the centre with my cavalry behind which would give me the option of advancing my mounted troops to the left or right without them being pounded by the Samurai cannon in the centre.
The opening moves saw the opposing lines of infantry close to shooting range in the centre, but with both sides protected by pavisses these were going to be a tough lines to break using missile fire! Dane then committed his mounted Samurai to an attack on my left wing which consisted mainly of mounted crossbows and two units of horse archers. With the hill protecting his flank unit from shooting, this was a very decisive move. I chose to throw all my light cavalry into hand-to-hand combat rather than shoot because of the Samurai A2 armour protection. Only one unit of Teutonic Knights was able join the combat and did so in a column formation losing 4 combat points (2 for being in column and reduced impact bonus by 2). Dane’s Samurai failed to stop my knights with his shooting - he only needed one more hit and my knights would have recoiled! In the ensuing hand-to-hand combat in which generals were pitted against each other (2D6 each), Dane’s die roll sealed the fate of three units of mounted Samurai. With his right wing now weakened, I charged all my cavalry towards the left only to be stopped by two units of ashigaru spearmen stubbornly defending a wood, so well in fact that they pinned my hero general and four cavalry units for at least six game turns.
A battle of attrition developed in the centre where the Samurai cannon kept frustrating my attempts to engage with infantry. If Dane’s die rolling had been better I would have struggled, but It became a regular pattern that at each and every crucial engagement , even when the combat factors were heavily against me, I would win on the die roll, even to the point of embarrassment! And for someone not exactly known for lucky dice, this was indeed a novel experience. Eventually, the Samurai losses exceeded 50% and the win went to the Teutonic Order.
For the second game the terrain layout was changed and Dane opted for the more wooded side of the table, and deployed in and between the woodland hexes. This time he separated his four units of artillery between the centre and the left, which from my perspective gave me far more deployment options. I concentrated my forces on the left and centre with two of my four generals sent of to the far right with four units of cavalry to keep his left wing occupied while I launched an all or nothing attack from my centre and left wing.
The two sides became engaged across two thirds of the table. Once this occurred, there were some titanic struggles for control of two areas of woodland. The woodland was negating the effect of my cavalry and the foot samurai were generally getting the better of my infantry. Between these two woodland areas the opposing cavalry squared up against each other. Yet again the mounted samurai failed to stop my knights from charging home, and again when it came to hand-to-hand combat Dane’s die rolling let him down once more. A unit of Teutonic Knights smashed through only to be surrounded and cut down by foot Samurai and ashigaru. The struggle for control of the small hill in front of the woodland eventually decided the left wing of the battle. I pushed the mounted and foot samurai back from the hill and into the woodland with heavy losses including a samurai general. Two of my generals led the eventual assault into the woods and were both killed in the ensuing combat. This meant that I had no command and control in the centre and left wing of the army.
At this point, if Dane had any cavalry left the Teutonic army would have been in trouble, but with no Samurai cavalry left and with my two remaining generals racing across from the right with their cavalry escort, the fate of the Samurai army was decided. This was a real humdinger of a game which was very close right up until the end. I lost many combats and units but at every key point in the battle the dice gods were definitely on my side.
Many thanks to Dane for two excellent games – I’m sure it won’t be long before these two armies are at each other again and this time it will be the Samurai seeking revenge.